Slaughterhouse five, by Kurt Vonnegut, follows the life experiences of Billy Pilgrim throughout his life. The book focuses on Billy’s experiences during World War II, and the travels through time.
The reader quickly finds out that Billy’s take on time isn’t similar to anyone else’s on earth, but that of how the extraterrestrials Tralfamadorians view time. Billy, along with a model Montana Wildhack, are kidnapped from earth and put on display at a Tralfamadore’s zoo.
Billy takes us through the events in his life the way he sees it, traveling through events at his life in no particular order. He goes from being a prisoner of war, to his wedding night, to his time spent in a psychiatric ward after the war, to when his death happens, to when he is confronted by his daughter for sending a letter about Tralfamadore, and so on.
The way they see time is even if someone is dead at this present time, they’re alive in another time.
Billy’s travel through time is interesting, because unlike most people Billy visits the same places in time more than once. He goes to sleep in one time and one place, and wakes up at a completely different time and place in his life.
The main ‘focus’ that Billy constantly goes to is his time as a Chaplan’s assistant during World War II, and when he was captured and became a prisoner of war and was taken to Dresden. Billy and his fellow Americans survive the firebombing of Dresden while hiding in an deep cellar, and are among the few survivors along with their German guards.
The narrator wants to tell the story of when Edgar Derby was killed by firing squad when he was found with a teapot after the firebombing, thinking that it would be a good climax for a novel. Though, Derby doesn’t seem like an important character except when the Americans needed someone to stand up for them.
Slaughterhouse five was not what I expected when I picked up this American classic, but it was a welcome surprise. I read through it with the thought in mind that I wasn’t going to enjoy the story, because of the first chapter or two but it quickly turned into a book I didn’t want to put down.